TELEVISION / BRIEFING: Reds in the bed

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The Independent Culture
Like all good BBC2 serials, THE MUSHROOM PICKER (9.25pm BBC2) opens with a solid nooky scene - as two colleagues grapple at an office party. Thereafter, the first instalment of Liane Aukin's three-part adaptation of the Zinovy Zinik comic novel becomes far less comprehensible. Snooty champagne socialist Margot (the always enjoyable Lesley Manville) takes her impressionable childhood friend Clea (Lynsey Baxter) to meet her 'fave Sovs' in Moscow. Chief among these is Kostya (the ripe Nigel Terry), a red-blooded wheeler- dealer known as the 'man with the meat'. One minute he is dragging in a carcass of beef for a hearty stew; the next, he is dragging out Clea for a hearty bonk. A smorgasbord of food-related couplings ensues - check out the cinnamon on the navel scene - as Kostya outlines his foodie worldview. Not to be watched with a TV dinner on your lap.

NO CURE FOR CANCER (11.05pm C4), a stand-up show recorded at the Actors' Playhouse in New York, demonstrates that there is life for Denis Leary outside the confines of Jonathan Ross's Saturday Zoo. This totally unreconstructed, chain-smoking comic aims at all the usual targets - vegetarians, environmentalists, anti-smoking lobbyists. You might take greatest pleasure, however, from his attack on Sting.

(Photograph omitted)

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